“MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE”. ( 1948 )
SCREWBALL COMEDY MONTH.
I was tossing up between “Bringing Up Baby” and “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” for my next review, but as “Bringing Up Baby” is my favourite Screwball Comedy of all time I wanted to leave that till last or near last, so I’ve chosen to review “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”. Just like “Bringing Up Baby”, this film also stars Cary Grant, but this time alongside Myrna Loy, and Melvyn Douglas.
Cary Grant and Myrna Loy light up the screen with laughs in this classic Screwball Comedy about a married couple who decide to start anew by building their dream house in the country, only to discover that the whole ordeal is nothing but a nightmare. Jim and Muriel Blandings ( Cary Grant and Myrna Loy ) are happily married with two young daughters. The couple currently reside in a small apartment in New York. Jim is a buoyant account executive working for the advertising business, while Muriel is a proficient homemaker. After living several years in a cramped apartment, the couple decide that they need more room. Behind Jim’s back, Muriel arranges to renovate their apartment by taking down walls and adding extra rooms. When Jim finds out about this latest plan he repudiates the idea. Shortly after Jim encounters an advertisement for Connecticut living, and goes home to announce the news to Muriel, who at first is against moving home until she starts to inure to the idea. Enthusiastic, they contact a real estate agent, and the Blandings are directed to ‘The Old Hackett Place’, a dilapidated two hundred year old farmhouse in Lansdale County, Connecticut. Even though the house is falling to bits, the Blandings fall in love with the home and purchase the property for more of the going rate for land in the area. After sound advice they are forced to demolish the house, so with the help of their friend and lawyer Bill Cole ( Melvyn Douglas ) they hire architect Simms ( Reginald Denny ) to assist with the designing and the construction of their new home.
Complications ensue as the Blandings discover that building their dream home in the country is nothing but a disaster. From the planning to the designing and the construction they strike an array of unforeseen problems and setbacks that cause delay on their moving in date. Even after relocating to their new home in Connecticut, more dramas occur, and the Blandings realize that building and setting up your dream house is more trouble than it’s worth.
I can’t think of any other actor that is more adept at Screwball Comedy than what Cary Grant was. From classic Screwballs like “Bringing Up Baby” and “His Girl Friday” to this movie, which is probably more esoteric than the others, to perennial films like “North By Northwest” and “An Affair To Remember”, Cary Grant has done it all. In my opinion, Cary is one of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen. He played many diverse roles, and always delivered a commendable performance, but when you pair Cary with the likes of Myrna Loy and Melvyn Douglas, the result is enthralling. Like Grant, Loy and Douglas also shined in Screwball Comedy.
While “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” is not bust your gut funny like some other films, it’s still enjoyable to watch with many funny sequences that will keep audiences entertained. I find that the elements of humor is perfectly blended in this film, and not too overdone. With a conglomeration of comedy and drama, “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” will enchant audiences for many decades to come.
The Blandings house, built for the film, does indeed exist, but it’s not in Connecticut. It’s in Los Angeles and can still be seen today.
The house “Blandings’ Way” really exists on Indian Hill Road in New Milford, Connecticut. It’s a beautiful huge white art deco/colonial house that has many of the actual rooms discussed in the movie – such as a room to cut flowers. Also less than a mile away on Long Mountain Road is executive producer of the movie and MGM head Dore Schary‘s old country home.
Quotes from film:
Muriel Blandings: “I want it to be a soft green, not as blue-green as a robin’s egg, but not as yellow-green as daffodil buds. Now, the only sample I could get is a little too yellow, but don’t let whoever does it go to the other extreme and get it too blue. It should just be a sort of grayish-yellow-green. Now, the dining room. I’d like yellow. Not just yellow; a very gay yellow. Something bright and sunshine-y. I tell you, Mr. PeDelford, if you’ll send one of your men to the grocer for a pound of their best butter, and match that exactly, you can’t go wrong! Now, this is the paper we’re going to use in the hall. It’s flowered, but I don’t want the ceiling to match any of the colors of the flowers. There’s some little dots in the background, and it’s these dots I want you to match. Not the little greenish dot near the hollyhock leaf, but the little bluish dot between the rosebud and the delphinium blossom. Is that clear? Now the kitchen is to be white. Not a cold, antiseptic hospital white. A little warmer, but still, not to suggest any other color but white. Now for the powder room – in here – I want you to match this thread, and don’t lose it. It’s the only spool I have and I had an awful time finding it! As you can see, it’s practically an apple red. Somewhere between a healthy wine sap and an unripened Jonathan. Oh, excuse me…”
Jim Blandings: “What’s with this kissing all of a sudden? I don’t like it. Every time he goes out of this house, he shakes my hand and kisses you.”
Muriel Blandings: “Would you prefer it the other way around?”
Jim Blandings: “That’s fine. For the rest of my life, I’ll have to get up at 5 in the morning to catch the 6:15 train to get to my office at 8. It doesn’t even open until 9, and I never get there until 10.”
Muriel Blandings: “Well, maybe if you start earlier, you can leave the office earlier.”
Jim Blandings: “To get home earlier, to get to bed earlier, to get up earlier, I suppose.”
Bill Cole: “Maybe you can get the railroad to push the train up to 4:15. Then you won’t have to go to bed at all.”
Cary Grant: Born Archibald Alexander Leach on January 18th, 1904 in Bristol, England. Died: November 29th, 1986 in Davenport, Iowa. Aged 82.
Myrna Loy: Born Myrna Adele Williams on August 2nd, 1905 in Helena, Montana. Died: December 14th, 1993 in New York. Aged 88.
Melvyn Douglas: Born Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg on April 5th, 1901 in Macon, Georgia. Died: August 4th, 1981 in New York. Aged 80.